In preparing for this event, I kept the following 5 tips in mind for successfully moderating the panel discussion.
1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. This means knowing who your panelists are by visiting their social media sites, websites, blog, etc. This allows you to shape your questions targeted specifically to them.
At FOLA, the “Meet the Authors” panel included Austin S. Camacho (thriller writer), Teri Ellen Cross Davis (poetry), Michelle Junot (poetry) and Jung Yun (fiction writer). After visiting their social media sites, I learned they wrote fiction and non-fiction. In doing so, I was able to craft questions geared toward their various works.
In addition, I sent them an email with the questions and outlined how the time would be allotted as well as making them aware that the discussion would include them reading excerpts from their works. In doing so, the panelists were able to prepare for a lively and informative discussion.
2. Engage the Audience. It’s very important to acknowledge and engage the audience early on so they are vested in the panel discussion. From the very beginning, I welcomed the audience and then made them aware of what to expect during the panel discussion and when they could ask questions.
3. Be flexible. This means going off script from the prepared questions if there is a particularly interesting or funny response to a question. There were a few moments when I went off script and asked the other panelists to chime in or expand on a comment another panelist made.
4. Master Facilitating the Discussion. The audience is there to learn about the authors and their works. So, it’s very important that the moderator take a back sat and solicit responses from the panelists related to their expertise and their experiences. During the panel discussion, I made sure to stay out of the way and not inject my opinions while facilitating a lively discussion.
5. Get Photos/Video Clips. Remember to take lots of photos and videos and make them available for anyone to see.
I had a great time moderating this panel and enjoyed having conversations with the panelists even after the discussion ended.Here are some photos from the event. Enjoy!